The Key Episode 7

The Key

Robin and the Beetleman found a little privacy on Carly’s balcony. Inside the apartment Kim fussed over a wounded Puppet Girl who was laid out carefully on the sofa. She was still breathing so it wasn’t time to panic and call a doctor yet. The girl hadn’t woken up yet though and that worried Robin but Kim looked like a capable caregiver. Maybe having kids unlocked that sort of behavior in human beings.

The Beetleman cleared his throat. He was leaning against the railing of the balcony. He had draped his trenchcoat over the railing and he had rolled up the sleeves of his button-up shirt. Even without the mass of the coat the balcony felt smaller with him on it. He was so big and tall and there was a force to his presence. He had the gravity of an action hero and it was hard not to look at him. She found herself staring at his caramel face, dark chocolate eyes and pitch black hair. He must not have gotten time to shave but he looked good. He looked really good actually.

“Earth to Robin. You wanted to talk?” He asked, cocking his head to the side ever so slightly.

“Oh. Yeah. Yeah I did. I just don’t know exactly where to start.” Robin said while trying not to blush.

“It’s all kind of terrifyingly complicated. I don’t blame you.” He nodded slowly, turning to look out over the surrounding wholesome neighborhood. The sirens in the square had died down by then.

“Can we maybe start with your name? I still don’t know it.” Robin said, tense with how awkward that question felt. It seemed that they had been so intimate in the bar and he had saved her life. It was ridiculous that she hadn’t asked yet, right?

“That’s weird. You used it last night.” He said, a curious look scrunching his face up. He didn’t quite trust her just as much as she didn’t trust him.

“Long story but that wasn’t me.”

“That wasn’t you? You look like the same tattooed, semi-goth bar waitress from before. Are you sure you didn’t get a concussion in the square?” He asked. It was Robin’s turn to look out over the neighborhood. She could feel him studying her and this time she couldn’t stop herself from blushing.

“I don’t reawlly know how it works but there is another Robin in my head. She knew your name, I guess. I don’t. I’m not crazy or at least I wasn’t before yesterday.”

“I guess that would explain the strange accent from last night.”

“The what!?”

“Just kidding.” He said with a chuckle. “You really are clueless about what’s going on, aren’t you?”

Robin grinned but tried very hard to frown instead. “I know that they’re bad and I’m good or at least I’m trying to be. I know that there’s another me that goes around and getting tattoos and apparently talking to strange men. Could you just tell me your name, already?”

“I guess I owe you at least that much but there’s a problem with that.” He frowned and paused long enough for someone to drive a truck between his words. “I don’t remember my name. I don’t remember much of anything and that includes my name. I know it’s R… something. It starts with an R.”

Robin felt bad for the guy but that lasted only a moment before the fear response hit. What was she up against that could do this? Why did she have to be up against it or anything else? She thought she might just have another panic attack right there on the balcony. She gripped the rail tight and felt her stomach do barrel rolls inside of her. She made small, involuntary sounds that were clearly not words and showed just how vulnerable she felt. The word “Why” rang through her head like a pealing church bell.

“Are you ok?” R asked which was a nominee for dumbest but most thoughtful question of the year.

“I’m sorry it did that to you.” Robin managed to croak out. It was inadequate but the best she could muster.

“It’s ok now. I have a feeling that you’ll help me get it all back.” R said. He said it so matter-of-factly that Robin started to believe it herself. “Maybe if we solve your mystery it will help solve mine.”

Robin sighed. “I’ve tried to solve it already.”

“Really? Ok. What have you tried?”

“I’ve…” The words died in Robin’s throat. “I can’t remember.”

“So she gave you tattoos. When was the first tattoo?”

“Fifteen. Well, the first one, the key, was when I was a baby but the rest didn’t start until I was fifteen.”

“Your parents didn’t complain about the tattoos? Ground you?”

“I… no I guess they didn’t.”

“Why not?”

“I..” Robin began but simply shrugged. Why hadn’t her foster parents ever said anything?

“What did the doctors say about your blackouts? About the tattoos?” R continued, the interrogation was starting to get unsettling.

“What doctors?” Robin all but squeaked. There had been doctors, hadn’t there?

“Any doctor. Any pediatrician or school nurse or anybody.”

“There… wasn’t one. Jesus Christ, there wasn’t one. Why didn’t anyone ever do anything? Why didn’t I?”

“Either you already had the answer or something didn’t want you looking for it. It didn’t want anything looking for it.”

Robin was hyperventalating now. She was leaning hard on the railing and nearly retching over the side. R reached out to steady her but she jerked away hard and landed in the corner of the balcony. The bars rang after her shoulder blades collided. The world spun around several times before she shut her eyes.

“What am I?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know, Robin. Let’s figure it out together. Ok?”

“How do I know I can trust you when I can’t trust myself?”

“You don’t.”

There was a long near silence which was filled only with the sounds of Robin trying to get her breathing back to normal. After what seemed like hours she gripped the railing and hoisted herself to her feet in the gathering twilight.

“Let’s go see if we can talk to the girl. I’m sick of not knowing.” Robin said and pushed past R and into the apartment.

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